The “Regenerative Revolution”: The Climate Change Term for Chinese Inspired Social Re-engineering of Western Agriculture

Crop Dusting. Altitude and wind affect dispersion. Photo by Charles O’Rear, 1972.

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the leader of the Green World Campaign, we have to discard the current extractive economy regime of using chemicals to maximise farm yields, and replace it with a more planet friendly organic approach.

How A Regenerative Revolution Could Reverse Climate Change

Lorin Fries
Oct 21, 2018, 04:00pm

Earlier this month the world’s leading climate scientists released the most urgent warning on climate change to date.

Among the ambitious ideas to meet this challenge is to enable a regenerative revolution – one that supplants our extractive economic model, and goes beyond “sustainability,” to draw down carbon and reverse course on climate change. Marc Barasch is among the leaders striving to galvanize such a transformation. He is Founder and Executive Director of the Green World Campaign, and an environmental activist who co-convened a first-of-its-kind conference for a regenerative society earlier this year. In our interview he shares what a regenerative revolution might achieve, how technology can help, and how we could advance this economic transition.

Fries: Why should we focus on regeneration now?

Barasch: If we stopped emitting carbon from every tailpipe and smokestack on the planet today, it would not solve global climate change. We’re in a crisis, and it’s only the beginning: we need to reverse course, not just hold the line. We have legacy carbon in the atmosphere that has to be drawn back down. Soil, trees and vegetation naturally capture carbon, if they’re healthy. The Rodale Institute has found that if current farmland practices shifted to regenerative, organic approaches, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions would be sequestered. That’s how powerful soil carbon sequestration is – but we’re not practicing it at anywhere near the scale that’s needed.

Fries: What technologies might enable a regenerative revolution?

Barasch: Blockchain is one opportunity. An excellent example is China’s Ant Forest initiative, where 200 million Alipay customers signed up to perform green good deeds in exchange for tree planting tokens, demonstrating a pent-up demand from the public to respond directly to the current crisis. Each person can accumulate enough positive credits to get a virtual “tree” — and for each of these, Alipay plants a real one. They reached a couple million trees already and have a new goal of half a trillion. This shows the hidden funding potential in small contributions, which can be blockchain enabled, to fund a regenerative revolution.

Fries: How do you see large farms and companies engaging in the regenerative movement?

Barasch: Revising our chemical-dependent, soil-destroying form of agriculture requires a way for farmers to transition. They know that these practices are harming the land that they want to pass on to their children, but they feel stuck in this system. This is a transition that Rodale Institute, Patagonia and a consortium of companies are trying to facilitate through a new regenerative organic standard. Giants like Unilever, Danone and others are also developing regenerative agriculture initiatives and announcing new sourcing commitments.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/lorinfries/2018/10/21/how-a-regenerative-revolution-could-reverse-climate-change/#7f724bf210f2

Sounds all sweet and natural – but a quick peak at Wikipedia gives a glimpse at the level of abundance all those nasty extractive economy agricultural chemicals have given to our world.

… Crop yields in the Middle Ages were extremely low compared to those of the 21st century, although probably not inferior to those in much of the Roman Empire preceding the Middle Ages and the early modern period following the Middle Ages. The most common means of calculating yield was the number of seeds harvested compared to the number of seeds planted. On several manors in Sussex England, for example, the average yield for the years 1350-1399 was 4.34 seeds produced for each seed sown for wheat, 4.01 for barley, and 2.87 for oats. (By contrast, wheat production in the 21st century can total 30 to 40 seeds harvested for each seed sown.) Average yields of grain crops in England from 1250 to 1450 were 7 to 15 bushels per acre. (470 to 1000 kg per ha.) Poor years, however, might see yields drop to less than 4 bushels per acre. Yields in the 21st century, by contrast, can range upwards to 60 bushels per acre. The yields in England were probably typical for Europe in the Middle Ages. …

Read more: Wikipedia

Nature isn’t human friendly. Any food crop is almost immediately infested with pests, many of which are entirely capable of wiping out an entire field. In the absence of chemicals your only hope of bringing in a decent yield is to sit out there picking bugs off the vegetables, or let the pests have their way and hope predator species control enough of the pests so you get something for your effort.

A few seasons planting without chemical fertiliser depletes a field of nitrates. After depletion, without chemical fertiliser it takes years to regenerate a field back to its original potential, hence the old practice of leaving fields fallow for extended periods.

Farmers don’t go to the trouble and expense of applying all those chemicals because they are too lazy to research alternatives, they do it because they have no choice, if they want to return better than medieval farm yields. The grim reality is, without all those “extractive economy” agricultural chemicals and practices to deliver additional nutrients and control pests, most of us would starve.

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Interested Observer
October 21, 2018 10:56 pm

“without all those “extractive economy” agricultural chemicals and practices to deliver additional nutrients and control pests, most of us would starve”

Yeah, that’s what they want. It’s a feature, not a bug, of what they’re extolling.

Jones
Reply to  Interested Observer
October 21, 2018 11:11 pm

“most of us would starve”

Not at all.

Without pest-control we can eat the locusts instead.

Jones
Reply to  Jones
October 21, 2018 11:17 pm

To get this ball rolling, from the BBC of course.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Jones
October 22, 2018 1:10 am

I’ve not noticed locusts in the UK.

Could slugs be an acceptable alternative?

Jones
Reply to  Adam Gallon
October 22, 2018 4:01 am

Only sautéd in garlic.

Jones
Reply to  Jones
October 22, 2018 4:07 am

Besides, with all this catastrophic anthropogenic global warming climate change locusts are sure to come.

No?

william Johnston
Reply to  Jones
October 22, 2018 6:24 am

Like he said. “We starve!!”

Latitude
Reply to  Jones
October 22, 2018 6:35 am

yeah right….tell me I have to eat bugs to save the planet
While they buy more mega mansions and planes…
…and the UN IPCC says it’s a deadly poison and we have to stop
but the vast majority of countries can increase their emissions

You don’t even have to look at the science…just the people that push the s c a m

..they don’t even believe their own s c a m

Delilah T
Reply to  Interested Observer
October 22, 2018 5:46 am

Are any of those people farmers, meaning do they physically involve themselves in agriculture at all? Do they understand even the slightest thing about agriculture?

Even the Amish use fertilizer to increase their crop production. You haven’t lived until you watch a four-gang team of Belgians pulling a plow and relieving themselves of their breakfast at the same time. It’s all good stuff: organize materials plowed back into the dirt, and corn in the corncrib, wheat in the bins. And it doesn’t matter how it’s produced.

But I do have a brilliant idea: the people who make these proposals need to spend at least one year, maybe two, living on what amounts to the yield of grains from a medieval farm, and no access to modern plumbing or conveniences.

If that doesn’t shut them up, nothing will.

Michael P Wall
Reply to  Delilah T
October 22, 2018 6:47 am

No they need to do the work that gives the yields of medieval yields. That people starve under their plans is a feature not a negative as they firmly believe that the only way forward is severely reduced population, of course as long as they are in the population that survives. The real question is who do you think will survive better under their plans? The third world subsistence farmer who knows starvation and lives their plan currently or the fat city dwelling college professor who hasn’t broken a sweat working in a farm field ever? I know who my money is on.

Delilah T
Reply to  Michael P Wall
October 22, 2018 6:17 pm

Obviously, the subsistence farmer would survive and outlive the desk jockey professor, simply because the farmer in tune with the the seasons and the weather, and the professor is afraid of any changes in weather from dry to rainy or snowy, warm to cold, etc., and likely wouldn’t know a radish seed from a wheat kernel.

John Tillman
Reply to  Delilah T
October 22, 2018 6:21 pm

I follow the common practice of mixing radish and carrot seeds before planting in order to cut down on carrot thinning. Radishes grow more quickly than carrots.

Joe Crawford
Reply to  Delilah T
October 22, 2018 8:20 am

Better yet, let ’em work on a farm for a couple of years to get some understanding of the problems before they pontificate on a subject they know absolutely nothing about. Armchair quarterbacking is a destructive disease endemic among academia and other dogmatists.

Eric H
Reply to  Interested Observer
October 22, 2018 8:40 am

So, I just did the back of the envelope calculations for the number of trees they hope to plant…

500 Billion Trees

An “unhealthy” forest = 100-200 trees per acre
http://www.sbcounty.gov/calmast/sbc/html/healthy_forest.asp

500 billion / 200 very unhealthy trees =2.5 billion acres of trees
Acres per sq. mile = 640

2.5 billion / 640 = 3,906,250 sq miles

Total sq miles of China = 3.71 million sq miles

Total sq miles of France = 210000 sq miles

So they would like to cover the entire country of China + Most of France in very unhealthy forest.

If we go with a “healthy forest” = 40-60 trees per acre

500 billion / 60 healthy trees =8.334 billion acres of trees
Acres per sq. mile = 640

8.334 billion / 640 = 13,020,833 sq miles

Total sq miles of China = 3.71 million sq miles

Total sq miles of Russia = 6.6 million sq miles

Total sq miles of US = 3.8 million sq miles

Now they are covering China + Russia + the United States in healthy forest!

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Eric H
October 23, 2018 4:16 am

It’s clear you don’t live in Georgia!

100 trees per acre is nothing. We average that over the city of Atlanta, which is urban, not forest.

Ie. The total number of trees in Atlanta divided by the total acreage of the city gives 111 trees per acre.

For pristine northern Georgia forest it has to be well over 500 trees per acre.

I just checked and if you plant trees on a 8’x 8′ grid you get 680 trees per acre.

I can assure you that on pristine forest land in Georgia the density of trees exceeds that.

October 21, 2018 10:56 pm

” without all those “extractive economy” agricultural chemicals and practices to deliver additional nutrients and control pests, most of us would starve.”
Which is exactly the objective of the green/left cabal.

ThomasJK
Reply to  karabar
October 22, 2018 4:23 am

What do you reckon are the odds that a century from now our descendants will look back and conclude that for reasons they don’t understand very well, they have a generation of mostly idiots in their ancestry?

Sheri
Reply to  ThomasJK
October 22, 2018 5:12 am

One can certainly hope so.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  karabar
October 23, 2018 4:25 am

Karabar,

With 20th century farming science, you’re right.

With 21st century farming science you’re wrong.

The key difference is in the 20th century they thought it took thousands of years to make a few inches of topsoil, so there was no choice but it fertilize.

In the 21st century agriculturalists know how to make high quality topsoil from clay in just a few years.

The article WUWT readers is making fun of has the science right, not the commenters here with there last century understanding of farming.

pat
October 21, 2018 10:59 pm

full show:

Youtube: 39min57sec: Life Liberty & Levin FOX NEWS | Mark Levin Oct 21 2018
Guest: Dr. Patrick Michaels
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmqqRF9lkfw

shorter video:

21 Oct: Fox News: The truth about global warming
Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, provides insight into the debate over climate change and the political games played to create policy.
https://www.foxnews.com/shows/life-liberty-levin

TeaPartyGeezer
Reply to  pat
October 22, 2018 12:33 am

I saw the show. It’s excellent. Recommend to anybody who has a few minutes.

pat
October 21, 2018 11:01 pm

full show:

Youtube: 39min57sec: Life Liberty & Levin FOX NEWS | Mark Levin Oct 21 2018
Guest: Dr. Patrick Michaels
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmqqRF9lkfw

shortened video:

21 Oct: Fox News: The truth about global warming
Dr. Patrick Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science at the Cato Institute, provides insight into the debate over climate change and the political games played to create policy.
https://www.foxnews.com/shows/life-liberty-levin

pat
October 21, 2018 11:04 pm

apologies for double post.

michael hart
October 21, 2018 11:11 pm

“Earlier this month the world’s leading climate scientists released the most urgent warning on climate change to date. ”

Every warning is always the most urgent one to date from “the world’s leading climate scientists”.
You can usually spot the world’s leading climate scientists because they are always an expert in everybody else’s field despite understanding very little about climate.

LdB
Reply to  michael hart
October 21, 2018 11:50 pm

Yep a Climate Scientist is apparently a master of physics, engineering, economics and ecology having never studied any of the fields and usually knowing less than the general public.

commieBob
Reply to  LdB
October 22, 2018 4:51 am

They seem to be ignorant of agriculture too.

I fail to see the difference between regenerative agriculture and things we’re already doing like crop rotation as one example.

I’ve seen this in academics time after time, after time, after time … They assume that other people are too stupid to see the glaringly obvious. Actually, it’s the academics, with their noses stuck in books, who most often miss the glaringly obvious.

Sheri
Reply to  commieBob
October 22, 2018 5:15 am

“Regenerative” is a fancier, smarter sounding term, sure to fool the less bright into thinking it’s new and better. The term has no real meaning, as is true of most such terms used (like sustainable, a joke of a marketing term). So if one says “crop rotation”, it sounds less educated. “Regenerative” is smart and condescending, perfect for the movement.

Tom Gelsthorpe
Reply to  Sheri
October 22, 2018 5:05 pm

Well said. Repeat the message until people get it.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Sheri
October 23, 2018 4:31 am

False

Regenerative farming is a 21st century advancement. There is fundamental soil science behind it.

The discovery of glomalin in 1996 started the ball rolling.

Brian A. Kaczor
Reply to  Sheri
October 24, 2018 7:27 pm

I do not care about the terms used, but the truth is that with the increase of CO2, plants are no longer starving for CO2. This means that they can grow more today than in the past. The biology in the soil needs energy to convert N2 to plant available forms. Plants that have more CO2 available can now supply this energy meeting the nitrogen needs of the plants. This is only one of the nutrients needed. Plants have several relationships with bacteria and fungi by which the plants feeds them in exchange for minerals from the soil. Soil scientist are finding out the importance to keep a live root in the soil so that soil life can stay alive. This would have been a problem in the past and also in conventional agriculture.
So, when we learn from nature, nature can take care of itself and be vey fertile. It is us humans that cause the destruction of organic matter, the destruction of life year around in the soil, the destruction of diversity, the destruction of balance then we wonder why we cannot feed the world.
Key in soil health and see what some farmers are starting to do. Key people, Gabe Brown, Ray Archuleta. Look for you tube featuring either one of them.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  commieBob
October 23, 2018 4:29 am

CommieBob,

Read:

https://www.quora.com/Can-we-reverse-global-warming/answers/34310028

Ignore the title, it’s almost exclusively about regenerative farming.

Remo Williams
October 21, 2018 11:13 pm

I’m all about soil rehabilitation and micro-nutrient replenishment, but modern agriculture is still going to require massive chemical inputs on top of that. However, we could be eminently “green” and kill two birds with one stone just by utilizing our already existing garbage stream.

Instead of spending vast sums of money to completely overhaul our agricultural practices at great detriment to ourselves, we should spend a more modest sum to build state-of-the-art trash separating and processing facilities.

All food waste ought to be composted. Then we can dump that on the fields. Paper and cardboard can be either composted, incinerated, or simply shredded into mulch, which we can also dump on the fields. Plastics can be either incinerated or granulated and dumped in the ocean, since we now know that the ocean does a rather good job of eating it up, especially when it’s in small pieces. Metals, of course, can be recycled. Glass can be recycled or simply dumped anywhere; it’s just silica, after all. Whole barges of shattered glass could be dumped a few hundred meters offshore in order to promote reef formation and spur a cottage beach glass industry.

The goal should be a zero waste stream. Everything should be either composted, recycled, burnt, or reduced to its basic elements. We ought to make landfills a thing of the past. I’m not saying this is a solution to anything, nor do I think we can gain a net economic benefit by utilizing our garbage this way. I’m well aware of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, thank you. I’m simply saying that a prosperous and developed society such as ours ought to spend some of its surplus in obliterating its own waste; and if we can do so in a semi-useful manner, so much the better.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 1:10 am

Food waste used to go in the ‘pigs bin’ until various diseases were found to propagate that way.

Open composting will net you a town sized population of rats for neighbours. And that’s a health risk too.

Probably aerobic digestion in sealed tanks is the answer.

Otherwise if it burns, burn it at very high temps, generate some power and then process the slag for anything valuable.

No easy answers in recycling, and no answers at all that are based on ideology.

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 3:22 am

if human waste is dried and heated theres NO reason at all not to use it as fertiliser
well there wasn’t until recently, now the amount of pharma meds in it and urine, that arent removable are a bigger issue than the minute risk(in 1st world at least) of any disease like cholera or polio.
worms process both manures and food waste extremely well and we should be utilising them
worms cn uptake 10% of their body weight in mercury or other heavy metals
they can then be burnt and the toxic waste captured.
reclmation of poisoned land in Wales some 20? yrs ago was getting good results.
the old adage is to put it back to the land
you only sold off farm the amount to pay your bills and wages, all waste was recycled/fed back.
so very little nutrient had to be brought in to replace it.
massive monocropping, soy corn soy corn etc is insanity
mixed farm with animals to graze n fertilise from the stover etc is far saner and healthier

Gamecock
Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 22, 2018 6:01 am

So instead of renewing my prescriptions, I should drink my own urine?

John Tillman
Reply to  ozspeaksup
October 22, 2018 5:33 pm

As used to be common throughout Asia, human excrement is still employed as fertilizer in North Korea. Hence the giant round worm infestation of the recently defected, wounded Nork solider.

simple-touriste
Reply to  John Tillman
October 25, 2018 9:21 am

Another example of “hygiene doesn’t mean soap”, contrary to what some of the most retarded vaxxers believe.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 4:28 am

Noting new up here in Ottawa. The municipality spends truck loads of moneu hauling away our kitchen waste to a composting site
https://ottawa.ca/en/residents/garbage-and-recycling/green-bin-and-leaf-and-yard-waste
It is terribly expensive and wasteful, no pun intended.

WXcycles
Reply to  Remo Williams
October 22, 2018 1:23 am

10 years to toxic nano-particle doom! … we have to stop this waste industry’s madness … give us money!

PRDJ
Reply to  Remo Williams
October 22, 2018 1:08 pm

Commercial scale dairy’s and poultry producers trialed a huge rotary composter developed at Texas A&M Commerce back in the 90’s. I did a few lit review papers about them and other methods of disposing of litter, manure, feed waste, and even carcasses mixed into the rotary composter.

It’s basically an insulated, large diameter pipe with a few baffles in it to keep the input moving toward the output end. The temperature and moisture content is monitored, the rate of flow is monitored, and the transit time (iirc) is about a week to ten days. What they are intended for is the rapid degredation of manure and urine saturated bedding/litter (wood shavings) and small carcasses. The bacterial action in this aerobic digester can cause the temperature to reach up to 180F, which is more than sufficient to destroy typical disease causing organisms. Whole birds would be reduced to a few large bones, beaks, and the rakis of primary feathers. Testing of the composted material coming out the other end was routinely pathogen free and ready for land application and incorporation.

I saw one in California in 2003 at a massive dairy along one of your interstates. So they must have some use.

October 21, 2018 11:14 pm

Thank you.
Is there a little red climate book?

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Chaamjamal
October 22, 2018 4:30 am

I think Al Gore wrote one, maybe any IPCC door stop.

howard dewhirst
October 21, 2018 11:23 pm

The idea that the 125ppm CO2 added to the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution (according to IPCC) will stay up there for thousands of malignant years, is as likely that we or anything can ‘reverse’ climate change. And how does the atmosphere know which CO2 molecule is which?

Alex
Reply to  howard dewhirst
October 21, 2018 11:29 pm

The good CO2 is green.

John F. Hultquist
October 21, 2018 11:31 pm

Do they know that plants need a certain level of CO2 to live?

Richard
Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 22, 2018 12:14 am

You mean, do they care.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
October 22, 2018 2:59 am

Excerpt from the article:
“We have legacy carbon in the atmosphere that has to be drawn back down. Soil, trees and vegetation naturally capture carbon, if they’re healthy. The Rodale Institute has found that if current farmland practices shifted to regenerative, organic approaches, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions would be sequestered.”

Complete nonsense! Plants need atmospheric CO2! More is better! It IS that simple!

If someone thinks CO2 is driving dangerous or runaway global warming, they are delusional – there is NO evidence that this is a serious problem.

I was speaking to a nurse last week, an educated woman, and it was clear that she confused real air pollution (NOx, SOx, and particulates) with CO2. This was a deliberate hoax perpetrated by the warmist thugs, and it has been successful.

The successful strategies of the left are based on the stupidity of the average person, and there sure are a lot of really stupid people out there.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  ALLAN MACRAE
October 22, 2018 4:32 am

The Rodale Institute has found that if current farmland practices shifted to regenerative, organic approaches, 100% of annual global CO2 emissions would be sequestered.”

Along with 97% of the human population no doubt.

Stop this enviromental madness!

Sheri
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
October 22, 2018 5:19 am

“How to Lie with Statistics”, or just make them up, is so popular among the snotty, self-excluding elite.

MarkW
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
October 22, 2018 8:31 am

Sequestered yes, but for how long? As soon as it rots, it’s back into the atmosphere for the carbon in those plants.
BTW, farmers have been plowing crop stubble back into the soil for generations.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  MarkW
October 23, 2018 4:37 am

MarkW,

With regenerative farming, plowing is avoided. Hip-hop is used.

Plowing degrades the AMF network and supporting that network in soil is critical to the goal of regenerative farming.

AMF – arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  MarkW
October 23, 2018 4:45 am

Dang spell check!

I meant no-till is used instead of plowing.

Tom Gelsthorpe
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
October 22, 2018 5:19 pm

“Regenerative agriculture” is just another catchphrase. “Sustainability” is losing its fad power because it, too, is emotional rather than scientific.

In reality, conditions and results fluctuate. Innovations are hard to predict. Stasis is neither achievable nor desirable. If you could have frozen agricultural yields at some point in the past, what year would you name? What level? What would you say to farmers who say, “I know we can do better.”?

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ALLAN MACRAE
October 22, 2018 7:53 am

Allan, you said, “The successful strategies of the left are based on the stupidity of the average person, and there sure are a lot of really stupid people out there.”

Allowing for damaged neurons from recreational drug use, and head injuries from sports and accidents, more than half of adults have below average IQs.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
October 22, 2018 9:34 am

Hi Clyde.
The great American philosopher George Carlin explained it thus:
“Think of how stupid the average person is; and then realize half of them are stupider than that!”

Notes:
Median, mean, meh!

Brian A. Kaczor
Reply to  ALLAN MACRAE
October 24, 2018 7:54 pm

“NOx, SOx, and particulates”
Add water to NOx, SOx and you get nitrate and sulfate, two more fertilizers need for making plants greener.

michael hart
October 21, 2018 11:32 pm

They reached a couple million trees already and have a new goal of half a trillion.

Well, good luck. I’ll check back when they reach one percent of their goals. Of course I like the idea of planting trees just as much as the next person, but I don’t think they realise just how big half a trillion is as compared to just a couple of million. Green schemes so often seem to be hatched by people with a poor practical grasp of numbers.

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 21, 2018 11:44 pm

“A few seasons planting without chemical fertiliser depletes a field of nitrates.”

Oh come on!

A few seasons of planting the same non-nitrogeneous crops again and again depletes a field of nitrates. Have you heard of crop rotation? A lot of farmers have, centuries ago.

Advances in farming will obviously include better multi-cropping, gene insertion and the optimal use of soil bacteria-feeding to break down soil particles making bound elements available to plants.

This latter ‘technology’ is used in India and is as simple as adding sugar to the soil to feed bacteria that can grasp, then release P and K, for example, that are not available to plants at present. Agriculture is not stuck in the Middle Ages.

tweak
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 22, 2018 12:00 am

“Adding to the soil?”

Sounds a lot like “fertilizer.”

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 1:26 am

Eric

Before dismissing the technology, which is locally discovered, adapted and driven, please consider the total cost and whether it actually works. Growing a little sugar cane on the margin of a field to create one’s own sugar syrup is very easy in a sub-tropical climate. It frees the farmers from having to buy fertiliser at all (assuming it is not short of boron etc).

tweak:

Adding sugar to the soil is adding a fertilizer, but not for the crop. It is for the beasties that are capable of breaking down the mineral-bound elements needed by the crop which are already in the soil by in an insoluble form. After living for a short time they die and make the elements available in a soluble form. As far as I know this is not done in the West. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work.

A second technology tested at ARDRI in Pune (Dr AD Karve) is the use of plastic “walls” in fields dividing them into cells. This collects and holds the CO2 emitted at night so they can re-absorb it in the morning (it is heavier than air). It works well in low wind conditions. It is a form of fertilization by the crop itself.

Sheri
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 5:24 am

People have a hard time grasping “scale”. You see it in energy all the time—Fred’s new magic energy generator makes enough energy to light 3 light bulbs, therefore, we can power LA with it if the evil power industry doesn’t block us. Something works in a country the size of Rhode Island, so it will work everywhere. Scale completely eludes these folks.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 23, 2018 4:43 am

Eric,

I normally like your efforts, but you’re uneducated on 21st century soil science.

Read this interview:

http://ecofarmingdaily.com/interview-sos-save-soils-dr-christine-jones-explains-life-giving-link-carbon-healthy-topsoil/

I know you’re on Quora, follow Scott Strough and read his answers.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 22, 2018 4:02 am

“This latter ‘technology’ is used in India and is as simple as adding sugar to the soil to feed bacteria that can grasp, then release P and K,”

Very interesting! I may have to try that in the garden next year. 🙂

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Tom Abbott
October 23, 2018 4:55 am

Before you do that, buy any of the AMF inoculating products out there. AMF inoculation is the key to getting off of the fertilizer bandwagon. Not filling your garden is the another key. Third is to keep a growing plant on it year round (a cover crop).

AMF – arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi

Amazon has a bunch grouped under “MycoGrow”.

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?field-keywords=Mycogrow&url=search-alias%3Dlawngarden

Pemnington is now incorporating AMF in their top of the line lawn fertilizers and grass seeds:

https://www.pennington.com/all-products/fertilizer/pennington-ultragreen–lawn-fertilizer

Note the red banner in corner of the package trumpeting the “Myco Advantage”.

The Myco Advantage is real, but you don’t have to get it from Pennington.

ThomasJK
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 22, 2018 4:30 am

You wouldn’t insinuate that some part of “science” is stuck in the middle ages, or at least in the 19th century, would you?

Sheri
Reply to  ThomasJK
October 22, 2018 5:25 am

Only if one is insinuating it’s “science”. 🙂

Alan Tomalty
October 22, 2018 12:00 am

I think they would need a tree planting project in Haiti. Because the Haitians didn’ t have access to cheap electricity, they chopped down and burned every tree they could find. Only 30% of the land is covered with trees now. Estimates predict that over next 10 years the tree cover will drop to 26%. So in 70 years every last tree will be gone in Haiti.

What energy source replaced the trees in Haiti? How does anybody cook any more in Haiti without access to charcoal? Or do the people rely on precooked meals from NGO’S and foreign governments?

No, they rely on smuggled charcoal from the Dominican Republic. 115 tons of charcoal per week is smuggled across the border. So the world is spending trillions on green energy and global warming dead ends while the population of Haiti has to depend on foreign largess of food and smuggled charcoal.

M__ S__
October 22, 2018 12:01 am

The “greens” often complain that we have too many people on the planet (another assertion without substantiation). One way to decrease the population is by starvation, another is by disease, and yet a third by war.

I often say that the whole attack on DDT back in the 60’s was really just an attempt to increase disease and in particular death by malaria. This reduction in food productivity is targeting the starvation tool.

Maybe we should start by reducing the greens population and see how that works first. If someone tells you there are too many people on the planet, hand them a knife and say “Okay, let’s start with you”.

Wayne Job
Reply to  M__ S__
October 22, 2018 12:29 am

Blood and bone makes excellent fertiliser, if depopulation is needed, the greenies can be used to fertilise the fields,killing two birds with the one stone so to speak.

bonbon
Reply to  Wayne Job
October 22, 2018 4:38 am

Greenie Pol Pot of the Sorbonne did that – the Killing fields.
Sent any edicated to the fields, no tech, emptied the cities.

BoyfromTottenham
October 22, 2018 12:02 am

Boy, the looney CAGW propaganda has been turned up to 11! Time to shoot back with a few home truths, or even better some Monty Python!

Jones
Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
October 22, 2018 12:14 am

Oh if you insist.

davidmhoffer
October 22, 2018 12:19 am

200 million Alipay customers signed up to perform green good deeds in exchange for tree planting tokens… They reached a couple million trees already and have a new goal of half a trillion.

200 million customers have raised the money to plant 2 million tress. So the new goal is half a trillion. That’s like 250 thousand times what they have done so far. Either they need 50,000 trillion people signed up to plant 1/2 trillion trees. or each person will have to spend 250,000 times as much, or some combination of the two.

Someone check my math that’s too many zeros to be tracking this time of night.

Hello? Hello? Mr Alipay customer? Yes, you spent 1,000 last year through us to help plant trees. We’ve got a new goal and you’ll need to spend 250,000,000 this year. We’d ask you to sign up 250,000 of your friends instead, but we just figured out that across our customer base that a few orders of magnitude more friends than there are people on this planet, so we’re going ask you to increase spending instead. Hello? Hello? Dial Dial Dial… Hello, it is Alipay here again, why’d you hang up? Hello? Hello?

Can barely mock this drivel anymore.

davidmhoffer
Reply to  davidmhoffer
October 22, 2018 12:32 am

Just to add to the absurdity, I wondered how many trees there are in the world. First article up on Google cites a 2015 study claiming that there are 3 trillion trees in the world, much larger than the previous estimate which was only 400 billion.

The headline…? Well, apparently despite there being about 8 times as many trees in the world as previously thought, they are disappearing fast because climate change. I sh*t you not.

https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/how-many-trees-are-there-on-earth-10483553.html

Paul of Alexandria
Reply to  davidmhoffer
October 22, 2018 3:41 pm

This is probably successful due to the Chinese “social credit” system.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System
People are buying indulgences.

StephenP
October 22, 2018 12:23 am

For those interested in the factors involved in growing wheat, there is an experiment at Rothamsted Research Station that has been ongoing since 1843/4 where wheat has been grown continuously in the same field.

http://www.era.rothamsted.ac.uk/Broadband

I remember at the 150th anniversary of the experiment on a visit to the field being told that the wheat yield from the no fertiliser plot was the same as the average world wheat yield!
Yet now in the UK yields of 10,000 kg per hectare are not uncommon.
Weed control and fungicides alongside new varieties that respond to higher nitrogen levels have been mainly responsible, with insect pests less of a problem.
Other major nutrients such as phosphorus and potassium need to be replaced owing to the higher removal in higher crop yields.
Sulphur has become essential as the air has become cleaner with the closure of many of the sulphur emitting industries. I can remember doing surveys of high sulphur demanding crops in the 1970s which showed adequate sulphur being deposited from the atmosphere.
Trace elements tend to be a problem associated with particular soil types, mainly magnesium, copper and manganese.
Trace elements

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  StephenP
October 22, 2018 1:53 am

Perhaps we can invent a nitrogenous weed.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  StephenP
October 23, 2018 5:06 am

Stephen,

If you’re into soil science, Google glomalin. It was discovered in 1996 and has totally transformed soil science in the last 20 years.

Much like the discovery of atoms transformed chemistry 100+ years ago.

Here’s a couple USDA brochures on glomalin:

https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1144429.pdf

https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/12650400/glomalin/brochure.pdf

michel
October 22, 2018 12:29 am

A few seasons planting without chemical fertiliser depletes a field of nitrates. After depletion, without chemical fertiliser it takes years to regenerate a field back to its original potential, hence the old practice of leaving fields fallow for extended periods.

No. This may have been how it was in medieval England but it is not how it was in 1870 England. They had higher yields than in the Middle Ages by doing better farming. Crop rotation had been practised since at least the 18c, which is not leaving land fallow, but growing crops which return the nitrogen. They also practised mixed farming, which gave a source of milk, meat and fertilizer.

Its labour intensive. But there are not too alternatives, nitrates and pesticides on a grand scale, or medieval levels of productivity. There is a third, and you can still see it in England in a lot of farms.

bonbon
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 4:50 am

Around then some genius in Liverpool imported 80,000 cat mummies from Egypt for fertilizer only to find the market turned up its nose.

StephenP
Reply to  bonbon
October 22, 2018 5:47 am

And another firm brought back bones from battlefield to be ground up for bonemeal.
The long term problem with soil nutrients is leakage, only partly replaced by the weathering of parent materials which mainly release potash.
Phosphorus will be a problem in the long term as there are limited sources of phosphate rock, and much of the phosphorus in our diet ends up in graveyards or flushed away.
Organic farming does try to improve the efficient return of nutrients to the soil, but having to use legumes as nitrogen fixers means that the rotations necessary restrict the number of arable crops that can be grown, and the amount of nitrogen fixed by legumes can be weather dependant as well as running the risk of nitrogen being leached by heavy rainfall before planting a crop. With ‘bag nitrogen’ the quantity and timing of application can be matched to the requirement and growth stage of the crop. Nitrogen fertilizer is too expensive to throw about will-nilly.
Incidentally, about 10 kg per hectare of nitrogen is fixed by thunderstorms. This nitrogen this applied over thousands of years to the American prairies was cashed in by the sod-busters ploughing up the original grassland over a relatively short time.

Brian A. Kaczor
Reply to  StephenP
October 25, 2018 6:29 am

Stephen, I wish nitrogen was to expensive, than we would not have all the nitrate in our ground water. Nitrogen is fixed as needed and therefore there is no leaching of nitrate. Since that nitrogen is bound in the plant, it will be slowly released as that plant material breaks down in the soil. As long as there is no follow time, as long as there is a plant to absorb the nitrogen as it is being made available, there will be no leaching. On the other hand, commercial nitrogen is applied in excess of plants need at the time. This nitrogen is very soluble and since no one needs it at the time, the rain leaches this nitrogen from the soil. Also, if the ground is saturated and goes anaerobic, bacteria’s will use the oxygen from the nitrate and release nitrogen gas. Another waste of our resources in the name of higher yields.

michel
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 5:45 am

Point remains.

Crop rotation AND mixed farming – sheep and cows. The choice is not between perpetual monculture with nitrates or medieval productivity. There is something in between. There was an English farming revolution before guano, in the 18c. It consisted in crop rotation and mixed farming.

Its labor intensive, and its not as productive as monculture. But it works, and its better than medieval.

WXcycles
October 22, 2018 1:02 am

“ … Average yields of grain crops in England from 1250 to 1450 were 7 to 15 bushels per acre. (470 to 1000 kg per ha.) Poor years, however, might see yields drop to less than 4 bushels per acre. Yields in the 21st century, by contrast, can range upwards to 60 bushels per acre. The yields in England were probably typical for Europe in the Middle Ages. … ”

I’ve not heard the word “bushel” used since I was a boy, and I had no real idea what a bushel was then either. I’m betting most don’t know. It’s kind of imprecise. I was told as a boy that a ‘tea-chest’, of tea leaves, a sort of thin plywood box held together with tin and tacks at its corners, was equal to “one bushel of tea”. If it fit inside the box, that was a ‘bushel’.

So, to remove all confusion:

“ … A bushel (abbreviation: bsh. or bu.) is an imperial and US customary unit of weight or mass based upon an earlier measure of dry capacity. The old bushel was equal to 2 kennings (obsolete), 4 pecks or 8 dry gallons and was used mostly for agricultural products such as wheat. In modern usage, the volume is nominal, with bushels denoting a mass defined differently for each commodity. The name “bushel” is also used to translate similar units in other measurement systems.

1 imperial bushel
= 8 imperial gallons
= 4 imperial pecks
= 36.36872 litres
≈ 8.2565 US dry gallons
≈ 9.6076 US fluid gallons
≈ 2219.36 cubic inches

1 US bushel
= 8 US dry gallons
= 4 US pecks
= 2150.42 cubic inches
≈ 9.3092 US fluid gallons
≈ 35.2391 litres
≈ 7.7515 imperial gallons

Bushels are now most often used as units of mass or weight rather than of volume. The bushels in which grains are bought and sold on commodity markets or at local grain elevators, and for reports of grain production, are all units of weight.[4] This is done by assigning a standard weight to each commodity that is to be measured in bushels. These bushels depend on the commodities being measured, and on the moisture content of the commodity. Some of the more common ones are:

Oats:
US: 32 lb[4] (14.5150 kg)
Canada: 34 lb[5] (15.4221 kg)
Barley: 48 lb[4] (21.7724 kg)
Malted barley: 34 lb (15.4221 kg)
Shelled maize (corn) at 15.5% moisture by weight: 56 lb[4] (25.4012 kg)
Wheat at 13.5% moisture by weight: 60 lb[4] (27.2155 kg)
Soybeans at 13% moisture by weight: 60 lb[6] (27.2 kg) … ”

Why we use metric.

John Tillman
Reply to  WXcycles
October 22, 2018 5:31 pm

For most grains, US farmers still use bushels. Some crop yields are however measured in US tons per acre. For wheat, a ton is about 33 bu.

In my county, wheat yields vary from 20 to 120 bu/A. But dryland farms typically summer fallow, ie alternating a crop with nothing the next year, to conserve moisture, or alternating wheat with a N-fixing legume, although the market for peas has been in the tank for decades.

Steve richards
Reply to  WXcycles
October 23, 2018 12:14 am

Not heard of a US dry gallon before!!

October 22, 2018 1:03 am

Its labour intensive. But there are not too alternatives, nitrates and pesticides on a grand scale, or medieval levels of productivity. There is a third, and you can still see it in England in a lot of farms.

My farm manager neighbour (UK) reckons you never get the yields with fertiliser you get from land out of decades of fallow. But it only lasts a couple of years.

Organic mixed farming is all very well, but it can’t beat chemical agriculture on yields. You only need to look at the rise in population since it was introduced.

And you only need to look at per worker productivity since mecahnical farming was introduced. One manm and a tractor/combine can till/harvest a thousand acres or more.

In order to feed the green drivelling ignorant urban populations of leftys, it takes a very intense amount of farming.

Which they object to.

Sometimes Id like to make my county independent, and start charging London for its food, water, electricity, sewage disposal, at rates that would make us stinking rich and them as poor as their absoluet idiocy and lack of productivity deserves.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Leo Smith
October 23, 2018 5:11 am

The goal of 21st century organic farming is to maintain soil health permanently that is similar to the land laying fallow for years.

But, you get to grow crops on it without any fallow period.

Donald Kasper
October 22, 2018 1:17 am

The first to starve would be the blacks in third world Africa who get our excess grain as foreign aid to keep their people alive. It would initiate mass genocide of sub-Saharan African black populations to the tune of tens of millions.

bonbon
Reply to  Donald Kasper
October 22, 2018 4:43 am

Wrong, China is busy there. Africa , today with only 98,000 tractors for the entire continent (2 million in Germany) will be a breadbasket with its own food production. Refilling Chad from the Congo – the Transaqus Project has got a MOU, after 30 years delay.

Pixie
October 22, 2018 2:00 am

We flush away tons of useful nitrates in the form of urea every day… urine be recycled…

bonbon
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 4:52 am

Effluent from the City of London has the highest cocaine content in the world. Not sure what that would do for the pathogens….

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Eric Worrall
October 22, 2018 8:11 am

Eric,

One could try gamma irradiation to sterilize it. Another possibility would be to burn the methane produced from the sewage water digesters to evaporate the some of the water and produce distilled water along with a solid residue for fertilizer.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
October 22, 2018 2:18 am

Legacy Carbon! Wow! Where can I order my piece. I’d like a nice cube of Legacy Carbon about 6 inches square to put on my mantle piece so I can show visitors I’m saving the planet too by keeping it safe. Perhaps it could come signed by Al Gore in a nice grey black colour shade.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
October 22, 2018 2:54 am

Your mind has to have a concept model of farm plants resembling machinery that converts some chemicals called nutrients into others called food. The name of the game is to minimise the cost of nutrients while you maximise the yield of food, with the natural available inputs of CO2, some SO2, water and sunlight as continuing, though limited, inputs.
The optimum settings, particularly for trace elements, can be hard to discover and they will change from year to year and change a great deal from crop to crop. There are all sorts of second-order effects like where the amount of molybdenum needed is affected by the amount of calcium present and both interact with the pH of the soil. Time can be a factor, such as the rusting of iron nutrients and attempts to make ferrous iron more available by chelating chemicals that can resist oxidation.
This second paragraph means that the optimum result requires on-going research and intensive management. Simply adding a large excess of a nutrient to last a few years can lead immediately to reduced yield, a poisoned outcome. And run-off losses.
Adding nutrients in a form made from grown plants, like a compost, has no possibility of survival. All you are doing is taking nutrients from where the compost crop is grown and shifting them to another location for depletion. So you have 2 areas to manage against depletion, not one, and a larger freight bill.
Fortunately, planet Earth has known locations where nutrients like phosphate and potash are naturally enriched and can be mined. This mining is essentially redistributing needed chemicals from a high-concentration source to a lower one. Nothing to get emotional about, just common sense.

The notion that the world of people can survive if we stop adding nutrients is simply dangerous, childish babble. It has no value worth considering. End of this story. Geoff

Geoff Sherrington
October 22, 2018 2:53 am

Your mind has to have a concept model of farm plants resembling machinery that converts some chemicals called nutrients into others called food. The name of the game is to minimise the cost of nutrients while you maximise the yield of food, with the natural available inputs of CO2, some SO2, water and sunlight as continuing, though limited, inputs.
The optimum settings, particularly for trace elements, can be hard to discover and they will change from year to year and change a great deal from crop to crop. There are all sorts of second-order effects like where the amount of molybdenum needed is affected by the amount of calcium present and both interact with the pH of the soil. Time can be a factor, such as the rusting of iron nutrients and attempts to make ferrous iron more available by chelating chemicals that can resist oxidation.
This second paragraph means that the optimum result requires on-going research and intensive management. Simply adding a large excess of a nutrient to last a few years can lead immediately to reduced yield, a poisoned outcome. And run-off losses.
Adding nutrients in a form made from grown plants, like a compost, has no possibility of survival. All you are doing is taking nutrients from where the compost crop is grown and shifting them to another location for depletion. So you have 2 areas to manage against depletion, not one, and a larger freight bill.
Fortunately, planet Earth has known locations where nutrients like phosphate and potash are naturally enriched and can be mined. This mining is essentially redistributing needed chemicals from a high-concentration source to a lower one. Nothing to get emotional about, just common sense.

The notion that the world of people can survive if we stop adding nutrients is simply dangerous, childish babble. It has no value worth considering. End of this story. Geoff

ozspeaksup
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 22, 2018 3:57 am

unless youre taking waste material that would be burnt or buried then you dont IMport compost material
you USE every skerrick from your own land
ie removing thistles and taking them to the tip is lunacy
they bring up calcium from deep down to the surface
either mowing them in and not using a cather or dig them out and compost them down
best option os allow an animal to eat gain benefit and proces it right back to the soil
it also feeds the biota that break down minerals from rocks etc as a bonus
have you ever watched Joel Salatins vid clips?
maybe you should.

4TimesAYear
October 22, 2018 3:20 am

“….200 million Alipay customers signed up to perform green good deeds in exchange for tree planting tokens, demonstrating a pent-up demand from the public to respond directly to the current crisis. Each person can accumulate enough positive credits to get a virtual “tree” — and for each of these, Alipay plants a real one.”

Games, games, games. Why doesn’t Alipay just plant the cotton pickin trees w/o needing “tokens”?

Steve O
October 22, 2018 4:12 am

Obviously we need to take radical action. But so radical as to accept GMO’s. I mean, life on earth is at stake, and scientists may say it’s safe based on decades of studies, but you can’t trust scientists.

edfix
October 22, 2018 4:39 am

It always strikes me that people who are telling us–and who purport to know the most about–how we should be producing our food are people who have never actually tried it. Or tried to make a living at it. IN reality, they have NO idea how complex and uncertain that industry actually is.

Brooks Hurd
Reply to  edfix
October 22, 2018 7:39 am

I agree. I checked Wikipedia and found this on Marc Barasch:

“Marc Ian Barasch (born 1949) is a non-fiction author, film and television writer-producer, magazine editor, and environmental activist. ”

Lorin Fries has no Wiki profile, but there are plenty of references to her. She graduated from the Kennedy School at Harvard and has spent her post graduation life working for government and NGOs. She spent 2 years working for food NGO in Uganda.

They both seem to excel at writing but both seem to be totally lacking of experience working in agriculture.

Rob_Dawg
October 22, 2018 4:58 am

Simple. Eliminate the Haber process and cut natural gas consumption by 4-6%. Only about a billion people would die. To start. Simple.

Sheri
October 22, 2018 5:10 am

Yes, many would starve. That appears to be the goal.

bonbon
October 22, 2018 5:13 am

New hybrid grains bred for better fertilizer use and yields are critical . The hysteria about GMO’s is only noisier than the CO2 cacophony. Maise, corn was bred from weedy wild varieties by the Inca (not “scientists”?) in central america – this has been going on since agriculture. China’s new hybrid rice with better vitamins is high tech, critical for India , Philipines.

Rob_Dawg
Reply to  bonbon
October 22, 2018 5:44 am

GMO is becoming irrelevant in commercial agriculture. Rapid hybridization is faster with consistent outcomes and no hysteria about frankenfood. GMO will be for exotic specialty requirements not feeding billions. And the hybrid advances won’t be what you think. Instead of square tomatoes you will get tomatoes that all ripen at once so you can get in an extra crop in every year. Instead of bushy high yield plants you will get vertical vines you can plant closer together with only enough room for robot pickers reducing land use. Many more unobvious but radical changes are coming.

Tom Hallaa
Reply to  bonbon
October 22, 2018 7:23 am

Bonbon, the Inca were in the Andes, in South America. While responsible for developing potatoes and quinoa, they did not originate maize. Various natives in what is now Mexico and Central America bred maize, which is wildly different from its uncultivated relative, teosinte.

bonbon
Reply to  Tom Hallaa
October 22, 2018 11:06 am

Those “various” bred modern maize from that weedy teosinte with careful selection techniques. We do not even know the name of the builders of the Peruvian pyramids of Caral, nor those who spread enriched black earth in the Amazon. Yet how about the Sachuayacu Urubamba script near Cuzco which is archaic Sumerian?
The strangest I have heard is the maize carvings in a Spanish Granada silo dating before Columbus. In fact 6 months after the fall of Granada, Columbus got his ticket west after waiting 7 years.
Could it simply be the “Inca?” never told previous explorers maize needs human assisted pollination?

Peter Morris
October 22, 2018 5:51 am

Why don’t we just spray Brawndo on the crops? After all it’s git electrolytes, which is what plants crave.

old white guy
October 22, 2018 5:53 am

The most serious problem facing the planet today are the idiots who think carbon or CO2 is a problem. If it is such a menace I suggest they stop exhaling immediately. That will get the rest of us a break in the insanity.

Alan Robertson
October 22, 2018 5:56 am

Soil amendments are one thing. Substances like Roundup are quite another. Studies produce answers to questions asked. Some questions can be foreseen to have the possibility of producing the wrong answer and don’t get asked. Roundup usage became widespread as an aid to low- till agriculture, which is an attempt to slow the loss of soil, due to common tillage practices. Almost everyone in the US now has Roundup traces in their bodies. Some countries have banned the import of certain foods from the US, for that reason.

China is making attempts to halt the advances of their deserts by the planting of wide swaths of trees. I wish them good luck.
Many narratives make claim that the world’s deserts began and spread due to the hand of man, acting out of tune with local conditions. Attention to the spreading deserts in Spain and other parts of Europe, can offer support to that viewpoint. There is even desertification in Iceland, where the landscape denuded of trees for fuel, has seen the productive soil swept away.

Vast swaths of the US Southern Central Plains were essentially turned to desert during the Dust Bowl era. Massive efforts to reclaim the land and turn dirt back to soil were successful, for a time, but most shelter belts used to prompt those efforts have now been ripped out, to make the acreage where they stood, tillable.
Researchers were recently surprised to find random geometric areas of lush green in the Central Plains, using Google Earth images. Those areas were the result of the very few remaining shelter- belt enclosed fields.

The solutions to soil fertility and conservation issues are not one- sided.

bonbon
Reply to  Alan Robertson
October 22, 2018 11:14 am

Rep. Devin Nunes Identifies Trump as the first Presidents since JFK to address CA water crisis.

China’s South-North Water Diversion Project (SNWD), is a three-route scheme for diverting flow northward to the water-deficient North China Plain, from the various parts of the water-plentiful Yangtse River Basin.

This is the spirit of the 1960’s US NAWAPA North American Water and Power Alliance.

Strange that so-called “communist” China is doing all that American style large scale action now? I’m afraid some here are still stuck in von Hayek’s hall of mirrors.

MarkW
October 22, 2018 8:26 am

Reducing the human population to a few million individuals has long been the dream of many so called environmentalists.

bonbon
Reply to  MarkW
October 22, 2018 11:36 am

Was Darwin “left”? Full title of his infamous book :
On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life).

His cousin Galton a eugenicist.

Favored races spared, of course.

I won’t quote Bertrand Russell, Prince Philip, Paul Ehrlich, Parson Malthus.

gringojay
October 22, 2018 8:36 am

Premise is contradicted by science in some cases.

Rice fertilized with organic nitrogen generates more tons of CO2 than if inorganic nitrogen was the fertilizer. For that matter this disparity is even worse as a result of organic nitrogen fertilization when the rice field is flooded until being drained mid-season; again inorganic nitrogen for thìs type of cultivation is better. See Figure 1 “a” of cited source below.

Wheat fertilized with urea for nitrogen has sparse effect on tons of CO2 produced. The use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer on wheat however did provoke more tons of CO2 being released. Test sites were in England; see Figure 1 “b ” of cited source.

Source citation = (2018) “The environmental costs and benefits of high yield farming”; click on “Supplementary information” to view Figure 1

Lois Johnson
October 22, 2018 9:08 am

Many years ago when I was an agronomy major at an ag school, there was a “new” department that was into sustainable agriculture. They bought expensive seeds of a particular type of Chysanthemum from Tibet. They were going to make a safe pesticide from them. They planted the seeds in one of our experimental fields. Well, nothing really grew. They then came, somewhat sheepishly, to our department to ask about what could have gone wrong. One of our professors asked, “what was your seedbed preparation.” They said, “Seedbed preparation?” Then he asked, “What was your fertilizer schedule?” They said, “Fertilizer schedule?” He then asked, “What was your pesticide schedule?” They said, “Pesticide schedule?” Finally he asked, “What was your irrigation schedule?” They said, “Irrigation schedule?”

James Clarke
October 22, 2018 9:35 am

CRISIS!

“We’re in a crisis, and it’s only the beginning…”

“demonstrating a pent-up demand from the public to respond directly to the current crisis…”

Jim Gorman
October 22, 2018 10:24 am

Way too many folks here that have never farmed. Many others obviously are very educated about plants, but again, don’t know farming. Let’s say I take a 200 acre field out of production and plant alfalfa. How many years before that crop puts as much nitrogen in the soil as one treatment of ammonium nitrate?

And, here is the big kicker, where do I go to plant that 200 acres I just took out of production? I still need that production to obtain the money to keep the farm running and people still need the corn/soybeans for food. Ya’all know productive farmland doesn’t grow on trees, right?

Get out of the universities and cities and live in a rural farmland. You may get an appreciation for what you’re talking about.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Jim Gorman
October 22, 2018 11:10 pm

Jim,
Second that.
As well as farming, spent 8 years researching plant nutrition.
Some folks writing here have no idea of scale or practicality or economics.
Geoff.

Jimmy
October 22, 2018 10:34 am

Every solution warmunists prescribe will result in reducing the population. It’s their dream.

Usurbrain
October 22, 2018 11:20 am

Has no one proposing this BS noticed the size difference between the “organic” produce and the typical fertilized product? Where is all of the land going to come from to produce all of the necessary produce organically? Are we going to clear more trees? Has no one also noticed that “Organic” produce coasts almost twice as much as the typical product? That means that the poor will get even less of the needed fruits, vegetables, etc necessary for a healthy diet and the rich will be paying twice as much, or is that the plan? A plan to reduce population.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Usurbrain
October 23, 2018 5:22 am

Modern 21st century organic no-till fields out produce 20th century plowed fields.

13% of US fields have converted to no-till farming to increase yields.

Elimination of fertilizer is a side effect of modern soil science, not the goal.

Usurbrain
October 22, 2018 11:36 am

See no discussion in the article or the comments on Rules and Regulations on recycling waste as fertilizer. Quick scan of the internet shows that many municipal, county, state and federal rules and regulations will need to be looked at and changed. As a teenager, 50 years ago, you knew it was spring when you smelled the manure being spread on the field. You could tell you were outside the city limit by the smell. Today there are oder rules, drainage rules, sterilization requirements [an odor free sterilizer will cost a farmer more to purchase and operate than he saves], storage rules, etc, etc. Will be some heavy pushback from the “Gentlemen Farmers” that are living in the country to escape the city and the taxes. Seems as if everything my father put in the Manure spreader is now considered “Hazardous Waste.”

ladylifegrows
October 22, 2018 12:06 pm

Agriculture is my field of expertise. I have studied (books) permaculture, and related breakthroughs for decades. Yes, we do need organic and regenerative agriculture. Many of these farmers actually make a living (poison-based farmers do not–they get their income from city jobs). Permaculturalist Sepp Holzer is restoring the cork trees of Portugal, and has a lemon tree growing outdoors in the Austrian Alps.

Nearly all of the books howl about climate change, and yes, that is extremely tiresome. But. THIS IS OUR WIN POINT. If you can manage to get past the need to be right and “they” are wrong, then this is where we can work WITH the alarmists, increase the carrying capacity of the Earth for Life, increase the nutrient content of our food, enhance both human/symbiotes and wildlife, and reverse desertification.

The book “Restoration Agriculture” by Mark Shepard (2013) has an amazing description of what happens when we move beyond monocrops to utilize far more of the sunshine on an area of ground.

Part of our hatred of climate alarmism is an awareness that the power elite are using it to try to establish a world government with high-IQ ivory tower idiots in charge. They don’t understand that they are in an echo chamber, nor how dangerous that can be. Large numbers of independently-informed people are drastically wiser than small groups of brains, even when they are as smart as WUWT readers or Bilderbergers. We must keep our eyes peeled on this and fight back and win against information monopolies.

To get anybody to change, they must be mostly RIGHT. That is why Regeneration Agriculture is our win point. Improving soil quality and reducing poisons is genuinely beneficial. We all know that organic-rich soil is more fertile. Also, when most farmers study what Eliot Coleman knows about pest management by soil nutrition, we will live longer.

Then we can point out that Michael Mann’s proxy was plant growth, and that NASA’s leaf area measurements show that he was right–plants are growing 40% more these days, some of which is CO2 fertilizer. When the screamers have improved agriculture, this becomes easy to think with and they can also face the definition of “climate optimum.”

Let’s win!

Jim Gorman
Reply to  ladylifegrows
October 22, 2018 1:23 pm

You’ve never made a living farming have you?

Your book learning means nothing when it comes to making a living growing crops. Do you really think that if the solutions you have proposed were more productive than those being used today that farmers would not be switching en masse to them? You are basically saying that farmers are uneducated oafs who don’t know what they are doing. That you, as an educated elite, know best and if you only had the power, you could solve the world’s problems.

Here is what I propose. Why don’t you give up what you are doing now for a job, get some financial backing to start a farm doing what you propose, and show everyone how easy it is to make money doing it.

ladylifegrows
Reply to  Jim Gorman
October 22, 2018 5:31 pm

Thank you Jim!
I mentioned that my expertise is mostly books precisely not to make myself look more knowledgeable than I am.
Real farmers ARE switching to various breakthroughs that I know about. As a consumer, it is striking to see an explosion in pastured eggs, for example. A hundredfold what existed a decade ago, and in regular stores, not just Health Food Stores.

Polycultures and perennials are just beginning. I do not panic and think we have to fix everything in one week. We are doing very well as a species currently and we have time. There is a ton to learn, and it is great fun.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ladylifegrows
October 22, 2018 11:25 pm

Lady Life, writes “Improving soil quality … organic-rich soil is more fertile.”

Lady, You have two basic ways to improve soils so that you get higher yields. One is artificial fertilizers, another is improving soil carbon. But, they are not exclusive. People who use fertilizers commonly improve soil carbon through returning stubble or other ‘waste’ to the soil.

So you put more carbon into the soil. Plants grow better upon it. Sadly, you have not included in your mental equations that the plants grow better by depleting that carbon (one of the reasons). In the end, most carbon used in agriculture ends up as CO2 and much of that goes into the air, where some people seem to hate it being.
It comes back to what I said above. If you improve the carbon in your sopils by adding plant material grown elsewhere, all you are doing is stealing nutrients from that elsewhere and getting higher freight costs to import low density, bulk material. Far better economics if you ship high grade fertilizers. Nature makes the added carbon by plants taking CO2 from the air, making more carbon per unit area when the yield from that area is higher. No need to ship carbon in, just add urea, phosphate, potash, trace elements as needed, as you diminish them year by year.
Geoff

p.s. I love to grab a fistful of crumbly black soil and roll it in my hand as much as any farmer does. But you have to manage your land to get it. And use modern science, not old-fasioned muck and mystery.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 23, 2018 5:33 am

Geoff,

You should research the 3rd way to get carbon into soil.

The “liquid carbon pathway” which was discovered in the last couple decades.

For highly efficient “C4” photosynthesis grasses, 50% of the carbon they pull out of CO2 is pushed into the roots and exuded into the soil with the aid of arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF).

The AMF make glomalin out of it in vast quantities which they slough off into the soil.

Glomalin is what the USDA calls “the real soil builder”.

Glomalin forms a protective wrapper around soil aggregates to protect them from rain water which leaches the nutrients away in plowed fields.

Daniel Skipp
October 22, 2018 2:55 pm

Suicidal nonsense… but to be expected from bigoted right-wingers who impulsively reject anything vaguely “progressive”, lefty or hippy. Moreover, even if this System-friendly bunk about yields were true [disproved here https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/3-big-myths-about-modern-agriculture1/ ], it is myopic in the extreme to think that it is sustainable. Yeah, that word. Sane humans don’t defecate on their own plate. Ironically nightsoil would be far better than NPK. We are destroying the soil we depend on, by erosion and by artificial chemical poisoning. Now the soils are so unhealthy farmers feel they need to use the chems just to produce any yield at all… and those crops are unhealthy too, causing us to sicken and die. Dead zones abound and human disease rates grow. I suppose y’all laugh at the connection between demineralized and chem poisoned food and the rising tide of cancer and the other degenerative diseases. Yet it is unnecessary, the soils can be regenerated. Western farmers don’t care about that though, they’re just in it for the money. Little better than the monsters at Monsanto.

John Tillman
Reply to  Daniel Skipp
October 22, 2018 5:43 pm

Daniel,

Western farmers aren’t in it for the money. The vast majority could make more doing almost anything else. They do it because the love the life. And they still have their farms in many if not most cases because their great-great-grandfathers, great-grandfathers, grandfathers and fathers and mothers cared about the soil, as do they. We have developed new ways of preserving and improving the soil since the native bunchgrass was first ploughed. (I realize you didn’t mean “Western” in the sense of the American West, but my region is representative of the methods which you abhor, without which the world could not be fed.)

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Daniel Skipp
October 23, 2018 6:29 am

Daniel,

I like the Scientific American article, but even if doesn’t reflect the latest in regenerative farming.

Two of the keys are that:

– the AMF population be restored via inoculation. The reason no-till works is it doesn’t damage the AMF soil network like plowing does.

– the cover crop be chosen from the subset of plants that have C4 photosynthesis. C4 capability has primarily evolved in grasses, so appropriate grasses should be grown in the non-crop portion of the year.

If you do that, during the non-crop portion of the year, 50% of the carbon extracted from CO2 via photosynthesis will be exuded into the soil where it builds up in a few years to create a healthy dark soil.

It takes a few years to transition, but after a few years the cover crop effectively replaces the fertilizer as to maintaining healthy growing conditions for the main crop.

ATheoK
October 22, 2018 3:34 pm

As near as I can figure, the “Chinese” reference in the title is solely because 200 million Chinese volunteered to perform green good deeds.

Not that significant portions of 200 million actually performed green good deeds and kept performing them.

Where did this nonsense originate from?
At the end of the linked alleged research, which isn’t research.

“Rodale Institute is grateful to the Rockefeller Family Fund for their generous support of this important project.”

That alone tells one everything they need to know.

That is, if the person hasn’t already discovered that Rodale has a history of selling junk and dubious claims based on far fetched assumptions.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
October 22, 2018 5:23 pm

Eric should have not presented this article with very little knowledge on the agriculture. Poor quality commentation on the Chines proposal. The same is in motion in India. One state already is 100% organic. One point is: organic is not to reduce CO2. To keep the soil and humans healthy. FAO presented on an average 30% of food is going as waste. This is around 40-50% in India and thus natural resources used to produce that much is going as waste. The traditional farming system includes cropping systems and animal husbandry. With the intercropping, the cereal plus pulses fix the nitrogen. —- plenty of research in this direction. So organic in cooperative mode improves the soil and human health brings down the cost of production and minimise suicides and lessen the climate risk.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
October 22, 2018 6:44 pm

FAO released a draft “Agroecological approaches and other innovations for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition” on 4th October 2018 for comments. I am submitting my comments – 25 pages. See given below few points from that comments:
Though officially Uttarkhand is organic state, to change this scenario under the pretext of augmenting production the state agriculture department is supplying “mini kits” of chemical fertilizers and micro-nutrients free to small farmers secretly. The whole objective is to replace organic farming with chemical inputs and hybrid seeds. On the name of free the government is addicting the lands with chemical fertilizers and then once this is withdrawn the farmer has to pay for it. Thus soil degradation and increased cost of production break the back of farmers. Also, this changes the healthy millets to unhealthy millets.
Madhya Pradesh [MP] government formed a separate “Agriculture Cabinet” and passed a comprehensive “organic policy” to make MP an organic state. However, this does not translating in to action, as the government is subsidizing (90%) to hybrid maize seed distribution programme involving the US based seed giant Monsanto and two other biotech companies under “Project Sunshine”. This is named as “Yellow revolution” and also it is being implemented in Gujarat, Odisha, Rajasthan, among others. That means, government telling something and doing something else due to the pressure from MNC!!!
Illegal proliferation of an unapproved Bt-Cotton variety with herbicide-tolerant trait, namely GB-III, which was developed by US-based multinational seed company. It is “Round-up Ready Flex’. The application was withdrawn for commercial release in 2015 but they are grown in India, more particularly in the state of Telangana illegally. Same was the case with the introduction of Bt-Cotton in India during 2002. Even before the government’s clearance for commercial cultivation, seed was produced and supplied to farmers [we filed a PIL in Andhra Pradesh High Court in 2003]. Low moral ethics in GM seed business. The lobbyists compel the seed retailers not to sell non-GM seed and as a result adulterated seeds were rampant. Unfortunately, FAO and CGIAR groups monopolized the tradition germplasm and kept in their gene banks and with the GM seeds they have been ruining the tradition wisdom in seeds.
In a first-of-its-kind study in India, the Centre for Science and Environment [CSE] tested 65 food products available in the market for genetically modified (GM) ingredients. To its horror, CSE found GM genes in 32% of the products; almost 80% of them imported. This is mainly children/infants food.
UN agencies like FAO instead of fighting against such fraudulent activities perforated in developing countries supporting their illegal activities by publishing this type of reports. FAO should thrust to eradicate harmful technologies and food dumping in developing countries.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
October 22, 2018 11:29 pm

Dr Reddy,
Usually I enjoy your learned inputs. Very disappointed by this effort of yours.
There is NO credible research to show ‘organic’ farming outperforms modern chemical agriculture in any way, except in capture of the vulnerable mind of the willing.
Geoff.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 23, 2018 3:52 am

Geoff,

For traditional 20th century organic, I’m sure your right.

For 21st century organic, I’m sure your wrong.

– use no-till planting techniques that don’t destroy the AMF network in the soil (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi).

– inoculate the soil with AMF if it is AMF deficient (AMF is natural and ubiquitous in pristine grasslands).

– allow glomalin to accumulate in the soil going forward. Glomalin is produced by AMF in very large quantity.

– slowly reduce the amount of fertilization each year as the glomalin acts as a soil glue to build up aggregates of nutrients

Glomalin is what makes pristine soil dark. If you don’t know what it is, time to learn. Its discovery in 1996 totally transformed soil science.

Look at the pictures in this recent tweet (April 2018):

https://twitter.com/NDSUsoilhealth/status/986615135497347072?s=19

In 2014, they started with compacted hard to farm clay. By 2017, they had quality topsoil. AMF’s production of glomalin did that, not fertilizers.

PhD (Soil Biochemistry) Christine Jones is perhaps the world’s leading expert on 21st century soil science and soil building:

ttp://ecofarmingdaily.com/interview-sos-save-soils-dr-christine-jones-explains-life-giving-link-carbon-healthy-topsoil/

ATheoK
Reply to  Greg Freemyer
October 23, 2018 9:23 am

“Greg Freemyer October 23, 2018 at 3:52 am

Geoff,

For traditional 20th century organic, I’m sure your right.

For 21st century organic, I’m sure your wrong.

– use no-till planting techniques that don’t destroy the AMF network in the soil (arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi).”

A) The fungi you reference are symbiotic with the roots. Tilling does not destroy them!
B) Nor does tilling destroy non-fungal symbiotic relationships.

Now, tell us how all crops dependent upon non-seeds will be grown? e.g. potatoes, yams, pineapples, bananas, sugar cane, trees, bushes, e.g. blueberry, etc. etc.

People smitten with one form of agriculture should not declaim their repudiations of all other agriculture.

One should also note, that many of the products sold as “organic”, but grown in foreign countries are not necessarily “organic” by American Laws.

Greg Freemyer
Reply to  ATheoK
October 23, 2018 11:01 am

AT,

Agreed that AMF live symbiotically with plant roots. Did you notice in the main article above it talks about cover crops being on the ground if a cash producing crop isn’t?

That’s to ensure the AMF have roots to get energy from.

AMF attach to the roots, but in turn grow hyphae. The hyphae can be several inches long and act like extensions to the roots. They are visible to the human eye, so if you pull up vegetation in soil with a healthy AMF population, you will see what looks like fine roots, but are in reality parts of the AMF.

As to AMF not being damaged by tilling:

The USDA did a 3-year test back around 2005:

They took a plot of land that had been used for growing a crop for years.

They took half the plot and switched to no-till farming on part of the plot and continued traditional farming on the rest.

Each year they tested the soil to see how both the amount of glomalin increased and the amount of soil aggregates.

Glomalin increased significantly in those 3 years, while aggregates increased, but less so.

The plot of land they used also had a natural, unfarmed, perimeter that had been in place for 15-years that they used as a reference for what the natural glomalin and soil aggregate could be.

They found the 15-year undisturbed grass perimeter had significantly more of both glomalin and soil aggregates than even the 3-year no-till land indicating that the no-till land would continue to improve in soil quality for additional years beyond just the first 3.

You can find a graph of the results on page 3 of this brochure:

https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/12650400/glomalin/brochure.pdf

ATheoK
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
October 23, 2018 9:13 am

Agreed! Geoff.

USDA tests all food stuffs extensively and thoroughly.

To date, Organic is strictly a marketing label, not a food quality.

Back in the 1970s, USDA, through various state agriculture extension services proposed that small farms and niche farms could utilize the “organic” label to sell their produce at higher prices.
I attended several of these “organic” marketing presentations in Pennsylvania.

Up till the early twenty first century, one could still download these USDA presentations.

While there are requirements growers must meet to label their foods “organic”, none of their foods are healthier, better quality, or more nutritious.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  ATheoK
October 23, 2018 5:04 pm

If they are grown as per the organic norms, their foods are healthier, better quality with more nutricious.
It is a chemical free food.

sjreddy

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
October 23, 2018 6:14 pm

Dr Reddy,

ALL food is a mixture of chemicals; and nothing more or less.
Geoff.

Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
Reply to  Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
October 23, 2018 8:32 pm

not so,

sjreddy

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